In recent years the first-person shooter (FPS) genre has become crowded and faceless to a certain extent, after dominating the video game market for so long. The rise of the FPS market has become unparalleled, particularly on the consoles. They have become the industry’s bread and butter. They allow our dreams (for want of a better word) of becoming Rambo, Arnie or a super-soldier to become real for numerous enjoyable hours, all with nothing more than a controller, several guns and innumerable bullets.
The popularity of FPSs like Call of Duty 3 has become so unrivalled that it even grossed a mammoth $1 billion for developers Activision within just 16 days of release. Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive of Activision, summed up its franchise’s success by saying “Call of Duty as an entertainment franchise has made an indelible mark on popular culture.”
It’s clear that if you’re able to create an engaging FPS you’ll be rewarded with both riches and diehard fans. Yet the market is both crowded and harsh in terms of attention for these games, especially in the sci-fi department, where Halo and Doom are the rulers. A successful FPS needs plenty of exciting action-packed moments, a rich appeal and a world that swallows the gamer’s interest. With that in mind I delved deep into the world of television and movies to find three sci-fi franchises that could be shaped into successful games and help breathe new life into the FPS charts. Here are my suggestions:
Written by Robert Rodat (author of Saving Private Ryan) and produced by Steven Spielberg, Falling Skies has all the potential to be turned into a brilliant FPS. The series tells the tale of Tom Mason, a former Boston University history professor, who is struggling to survive in Boston after an alien invasion. Mason is second in command of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, a small resistance battling for survival on the streets. Falling Skies would captivate gamers who took avid interest in the likes of the Half-Life games and even THQ’s disappointing Homefront. There are also a lot of similarities with the Resistance series. With its developers Insomniac Games proclaiming that they’re shelving the series for a while, a Falling Skies game could be the perfect alternative for irritated gamers.
So what would make Falling Skies a good game? Well, killing aliens always has always been an addiction for gamers and the series has plenty of them, from the aptly-named Skidders to the Mechs. Also, because Earth is in ruins there are a lot of scenarios for the developers to twist to make it stand out against others’ replicas on the market. Finally, every FPS fan loves big gun-battles and there’s lots of that in the series.
Since its release in 1997, the movie Starship Troopers has gained a cult following. The tale of a soldier named Johnny Rico battling for mankind against an alien arachnid species known as ‘the Bugs’ combined action and dark comedy brilliantly. The franchise has already appeared as a game once before, as a PC-exclusive game back in 2005, which was developed by Strangelite and published by Empire Interactive and Destineer.
Yet while the game retained the core feeling of the film it flopped, receiving disappointing scores across the board for technical issues such as AI. Pass it to a well-respected sci-fi games developer and it would translate very well into an enthralling FPS. A standout feature of the game would be an online Horde mode (comparable to those of Gears of War/Halo Reach) in which you and other buddies battled relentlessly against swarms of ‘the Bugs’ to survive.
Now, before you scream at me and call me an idiot: fresh footage of a cancelled Avengers FPS from THQ was leaked online a couple of months back and I and a few other avid gamers were titillated by the concept.
The game, it seemed, allowed you to play as any of the four leading Avengers and fight against the Skrulls in unique first-person combat over various levels. The game was cancelled after THQ Studio Australia, who was set to develop it, was closed down. From the leaked footage I personally would have been very interested in seeing how it transpired. When you consider that the film itself has smashed all box-office records and gobbled up a reported $1 billion worldwide, there was every chance that the game itself would have ridden the wave of its movie counterpart’s success and grabbed notable sales. With reports of a sequel destined for the big screen in the future, fingers crossed the uniqueness of an Avengers FPS could be given another shot of life for us all to try.
Ultimately this is only my own perspective and there are plenty of franchises that could translate into games. What would you like to see?